Top 10 Unsung Holiday Islands

by Jules on November 22, 2012

Tired of Tenerife? Bored of Bali? Show and Stay tempt your adventurous side with a selection of little-known islands where you can get away from it all and have a unique holiday. Bon voyage!

1. Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard is the last point of civilisation before the arctic wilderness begins. Located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, the only way in is by air. This tiny cluster of islands showcases the best of the Arctic, including great views of the Northern Lights, a chance to eat with the Sami and all the usual winter pursuits such as snowmobile safaris, dog sledding and boat trips. Warm up in the Longyearbyen Church and Svalbard museum.

2. Pontine Islands, Italy

A stone’s throw from Rome lie a group of volcanic islands which provide a refreshing destination for anyone willing to sample the real Italy. Locals boast that the islands are at their best during May, June and September when waters are warm, Roman remains are uncrowded and the wine is abundant.

3. Lesvos, Greece

Due to the success of the West End hit Mamma Mia, the Sporades islands have been infiltrated, yet this particular Mediterranean gem has gone unnoticed. The lack of tourists has left Lesvos with vast areas of lush nature and miles of unspoilt, uncluttered sands which brush against idyllic bathing waters. Let time melt under the Greek sun as you bathe in hot-springs, raise your glass at the ouzo factory and enjoy the real Greece.

4. Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic

For a true adventure head to the world’s most remote inhabited island. A six-day ferry crossing from Cape Town brings you to this volcanic landmass, and its population of 275. Experience this unique place with a homestay on a farm and befriend the locals. Come to enjoy warm temperatures, an abundance of unpolluted green space and volcanic hiking trails.

5. Ærø, Denmark

Who would have thought that Denmark boasts the hidden jewel of the Baltic? Ærø is a charming island dotted with small villages, whitewashed churches and early-Neolithic burial sites. All of its sights are best viewed in true Danish style – on two wheels. On this laid-back island of 7,000, rentals require no deposits or locks, and cycling through the lush, green countryside past the farms and fields of this flat island is a breeze.

6. Taiwan

Just a two hour flight from the Chinese mainland lies one of the most diverse islands in Asia. Taiwan is easy to get around, affordable, packed with sights and covered in natural beauty. Cycling around the little town of Huangjin (“Yellow Gold”), bathing in the hot springs in Beitou and dining at the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei are just some of the many activities every traveller should do when visiting this magnificent destination. With museums, temples, hiking trails, night markets and more, you’ll never get bored in Taiwan.

7. Jejudo Island, South Korea

South Korea’s southernmost point is a hot-spot for Korean newlyweds and boasts the mildest temperatures in the country. The island is covered in natural beauty, boasting the longest lava cave in the world, black lava cliffs and South Korea’s highest mountain Hallasan. Meet the Dolhareubang, or “old grandfather stone statues”, enjoy a plate of okdom, the local fish, and wash it down in Gangnam style with a shot of soju.

8. Okinawa, Japan

Until recently tourists often overlooked this group of tiny islands in favour of the big cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, yet now Japanese mainlanders are flocking here to take advantage of an abundance of unspoilt beaches, tropical temperatures and year-round sunshine. Come for some great diving locations, subtropical rainforest and meet the largest amount of centurions in the world who call this place home.

9. Shetland Islands, Scotland

This group of tiny islands, 600 miles north of London, displays a rugged beauty which needs to be seen. Although a part of Scotland, the locals relate more to their Viking past and northern neighbours, as demonstrated by the multitude of archaeological sites which dot the landscape. Shetland is the perfect place for hikers and nature lovers, with 1,697 miles of unspoilt coastline. It’s also not unheard of for the Northern Lights to make an appearance.

10. Prince Edward Island, Canada

An island blessed with Canadian nature and made famous in the story of Anne of Green Gables. Those into outdoor pursuits are spoilt for choice with wild rivers, dramatic rust-red coastline and luscious countryside providing the perfect location for horse riding, cycling and rock climbing amongst other activities.

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